Judge to decide ex-GOP staffer's child porn case

  • Article by: Joy Powell
  • Star Tribune
  • February 19, 2013 - 8:36 PM


Rory Koch, once a GOP staffer and candidate for Ramsey County commissioner, on Tuesday agreed to let a Ramsey County judge decide his guilt or innocence of alleged possession of child pornography.

But Koch, 40, of St. Paul, and his attorney also said they will appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals issues that focus on whether, under Minnesota law, it’s a crime to simply “view” child porn.

Koch on Tuesday continued to maintain his innocence in a St. Paul courtroom, but he also agreed to waive his right to a jury trial and let Ramsey County District Judge Edward Wilson decide the facts of his case. His case continues next Monday.

Koch is charged with 12 counts of child pornography based on 12 images found on his home computer. He and his attorney agreed on Tuesday that a Ramsey County judge’s pretrial ruling against Koch’s claims makes a contested trial unnecessary.

Koch and attorney Timothy Webb contend the state cannot prove that Koch possessed the images, as opposed to merely viewing them, because, they claim, he did not save or print them, which they say would constitute possession.

Koch was an administrator for the state House Republican Caucus when charged last March with possessing child pornography. He’s since lost his job.

Since late January, the state had been considering filing additional counts against Koch after his attorney contended the images were in a temporary “cache,” where viewing them caused the images to be automatically stored.

The state maintains there were images stored in various places in his computer — not just the cache. Tuesday, the state presented more evidence, leading the judge to continue the proceeding as he evaluates that.

On Dec. 3, the judge had denied Koch’s motion to dismiss the charges, based on circumstantial evidence that Koch searched for and viewed child pornography. Koch later asked the judge to reconsider his ruling on a narrow legal issue: whether simply viewing an image constituted possessing the image.

On Tuesday, Koch entered a Lothenbach plea, in which he maintained his innocence and said he will appeal pretrial legal issues. The Minnesota Court of Appeals will be asked to rule on whether someone possesses child pornography by simply viewing an image, which causes it to be stored in the cache, but takes no other action.

Minnesota law criminalizes possession of child pornography, but does not mention viewing it, Webb argued in his defense motion. “Legally speaking, ‘viewing,’ even if intentional, is not the same as ‘possessing,’ ” he argued.


Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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